Ronnie O’Sullivan was victorious in a thrilling final with Shaun Murphy 11-9 to win the Shanghai Masters for a third year in a row.
O’Sullivan, who in total has four Shanghai Masters titles to his name, has now won 15 consecutive matches in the city.
His victory last season came after defeating Barry Hawkins by an 11-9 scoreline in the final. While his win two years ago was sealed with a 10-3 defeat of Judd Trump.
This was 43-year-old O’Sullivan’s first appearance on the circuit this season and it has proved to be a lucrative one, with the Rocket picking up a winner’s cheque for £200,000.
Murphy leaves with the consolation of the £100,000 runner-up prize, but this season represents a dramatic return to form for the world number 14.
His place in this week’s event had come under threat after a difficult 2018/19 campaign, which saw him lose nine first round matches. However, Murphy solidified his ranking with a trip to the final of the recent International Championship, where he lost out to Judd Trump.
This afternoon’s play had seen the pair share the opening ten frames and emerge locked together at 5-5.
Murphy got off to the perfect start this evening. He took the opening frame courtesy of a break of 66 and moved 6-5 up.
The Magician had looked set to move two frames ahead when he was on a break of 61 in the next. However, a miscued blue allowed O’Sullivan back in. He punished Murphy with a run of 66 which saw him steal the frame on the black.
The pair then traded centuries as they went into the mid-session all square. Murphy composed a break of 111, with O’Sullivan responding by firing in a sublime contribution of 130 to make it 7-7.
When they returned O’Sullivan made a charge for victory. He claimed three consecutive frames, including a break of 124, to move one from the title at 10-7.
Murphy wasn’t finished and battled to stay in contention. Breaks of 82 and 90 saw him close within a single frame at 10-9. He then had an opportunity to force a decider but broke down on 29. O’Sullivan stepped up with a break of 86 to seal the title.
O’Sullivan said: “I always just try to hang in there. It is a bit like Seve Ballesteros or Tiger Woods with how they play golf. They are never out of it because every now and then they can produce a little bit of magic. That is the hallmark of my game really.
“I was very very pleased to win. Shaun has been cueing well. He looks like he has turned a corner and I think he will do some damage this season because he is in good touch. For me to be able to beat someone of Shaun’s calibre was great. Overall it was a very good match and I am pleased to be able to get my hands on another trophy.
“I just play in events when I feel like it, so I don’t class myself with the guys that are out there. They have a lot to prove and a lot to achieve. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. I think it is just nice for snooker fans to see me play and they want me to keep going for as long as I can. They don’t expect me to prove myself anymore so I have a different model which is more about enjoying it. For the other guys like Shaun, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson they still have to try and chase the records that I have got if they want to go down as one of the greats. It is alright doing it in a season or two or three years. You have to do it over a decade or two decades. I’ve done that.”
Murphy said: “I thought I performed quite well. I was pleased with my performance. There were just a couple of mistakes here and there, but it was high quality. In sport there is always a winner and a loser. Unfortunately today I was on the wrong side.
“It was a very high standard. I think against most other players I would have won today and took home the trophy, but Ronnie is Ronnie.”